Potential challenger Eric Averett said he is “withdrawing” from the race for a seat on the powerful Kern County Water Board.
However, his name will still appear on the ballots.
Averett said he couldn’t remove his name from the ballot because the deadline to do so had already passed when he decided not to run against incumbent Phil Serra.
“I’ve been told that Phil is stepping down,” Averett said in a Sept. 9 interview. – I tried to confirm this before submitting the documents. By the time I was able to contact Phil, the deadline for my name to be removed from the ballot had expired.’
With the drought and other challenges, Averett said, the agency’s board needs to maintain “continuity,” and he didn’t want the election battle to be a distraction. Three other members of the agency’s board are running unopposed. They include Laura Cattani, Ted Page and Charles Wolf.
“I will support Phil in this election and will look to the next election cycle as a potential candidate,” Averett wrote in an email.
Serra said Averett called him Sept. 8 to say he would not be actively campaigning for the District 4 seat, but did not say why he was stepping aside.
“I don’t know, but I’m going to be actively campaigning,” Serra said, noting that since Averett’s name remains on the ballot, he technically still has a challenger and will work to get the word out to voters information about his work for the agency and focus on getting as much water as possible to Kern.
Not only will Averett’s name remain on the ballot, but he has also filed a candidate statement. Cerro did not include a statement.
These statements are included in the sample ballots sent by the county elections department to all Kern voters. Information on the ballot can be extremely influential, especially in lesser-known races that receive little to no media coverage, giving voters less information to help make their choice.
This means that even without an active campaign, Averett can win. This happened back in 2020 in a race for a seat on the Panama-Buena Vista Union School Board. Paula Van Auken dropped out too late to remove her name from the ballot and won the seat. She counted a ballot paper that listed her as a “retired teacher.”
Cera is listed on the ballot as “Retired Farmer/Incumbent.” Averett is listed as “Homer Water/Farmer”.
Averett said he manages 1,600 acres of almonds and pistachios in Kern County’s Berenda Mesa West Water District for his employer, Homer LLC.
His work with Homer raised a few eyebrows in the water world when Averett applied for a seat on the agency’s board.
The agency has an impact on virtually every aspect of water supply in Kern County and has a large influence throughout the state as the second largest contractor for the State Water Project. It also has a stake in the massive Kern Water Bank, owns the rights to the Kern River, is a key partner in the groundwater sustainability agency that covers much of Bakersfield and approves transfers, exchanges and sales of water in and out of the county, among other things.
Meanwhile, Homer is part of an extensive network of individual LLCs throughout California associated with a wide and growing range of water projects.
The company and its affiliates have been described at SJV Water by various water managers as “one of the biggest water players you’ve never heard of”.
Homer is affiliated with Renewable Resources Group (RRG), an investment company co-owned by Cole Frates and Ari Swiller, and more than 50 other limited liability corporations that share RRG’s Los Angeles address.
The various water deals within this network are almost too numerous to list.
RRG or one of its affiliates owns land or has interests in water banks in Tulare and Kern counties and the Antelope Valley. RRG has also been named as a possible investor in increasing the capacity of the Friant-Kern Canal. It owns the intellectual property and licenses of Sun World International LLC, a major producer and breeder of table grapes in Kern. Apparently, RRG even has a stake in a contracting company called California Harvesters, Inc.
Back in 2013, RRG’s subsidiary, RENU Resources LLC, sold the Onyx Ranch above Lake Isabella to the Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District, where Averett was then CEO.
As Homer’s water chief, Averett is working on a private water bank project in the Berenda Mesa Watershed near Keck Road.
Given RRG’s many water projects, questions have been raised about whether Averett would be too hampered by a conflict of interest to be an effective board member for the Kern County Water Agency.
Averett told SJV Water he is confident the agency’s existing conflict protocols will allow him to fully participate on the board.
If Averett does win the seat, despitehis announced withdrawal from the race, it will not be the first time RRG has had a member of its team on a key water board.
In 2019, Nicole Nieman Brady, listed as an RRG “director,” was appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Board. Prior to this appointment, Brady served as a community member for the California Colorado River Council.
Brady is also listed as the CEO of the investment company Sustainable Development Acquisition, which was established in January 2021 by RRG and Capricorn Investment Group LLC.
The sustainable purchase prospectus notes that RRG has been involved in water investments since 2002 and that since 2008, RRG and Capricorn have “developed and optimized the financial value of hundreds of thousands of acre-feet in water reserves and water storage capacity. »
In its extensive list of potential risks for investors, the prospectus identified one risk: “government policies that may be adverse to investments in water resources.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEBtuggSvbI [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEBtuggSvbI[/embed] Oakland News Online Blog – Zennie62's YouTube video blog. OaklandNewsOnline.com is the original blog post for this content....